Dogalogue by Gill Capper

Dogalogue CoverDogalogue, which began life as a blog-on-a-dog by Gill Capper, Bridport Review’s interviewer-in-chief, has just been published as a book. Funny, poignant and beautifully written, it is all about Bridport, its people and dogs, with a cover design by Claudio Munoz of Puncknowle, who draws cartoons for the Economist. The book can be bought at Waterstones, Girls’ Own Shop, Animal House and the Fox and Worthington Gallery. It is also available as a paperback and e-book on Amazon.

• Gill will be signing copies at Animal House, South Street, on Wednesday 10 December from 11am to 1pm.

By |November 29th, 2014|Books, Exclusive, Review|1 Comment

Voice of the Daleks

Nicholas Briggs1By Gill Capper

I am travelling into a parallel universe, seeking the actor Nicholas Briggs who does the voices for the Daleks in Doctor Who. But wait. I have only got as far as a front room in South Street, Bridport. I am surrounded by a collection of tiny Daleks and Tardises. Nick Briggs is beaming at me and offering me a cup of coffee. Are they going to mind if I make jokes about being ex-ter-min-ated? No, it seems not.

Born in 1961, Nick Briggs cannot remember a time when he was not a massive fan of Doctor Who. As a small boy he watched the programme all the time. He has clear memories of William Hartnell, who played the first Doctor from 1963-66 and was “very preoccupied with the voice of the Daleks and mad about tape recorders.” And even then he was writing and designing stories of his own. Now he gets paid to do it all. But it took a long time coming.

Nick studied for his degree in theatre arts and trained as an actor at the Rose Bruford College in Kent. But times were hard in the 1980s. The actors’ union, Equity, operated a closed shop. It was difficult to find work. “It was very demoralising,” Nick says, “and I lost a lot of opportunities.” But he soon found things to do and, long before he became a Dalek, he started writing about them.

With a group of fellow fans, Nick started putting out Who-related audio dramas through the Doctor Who Appreciation Society. “It was just for fun, completely unofficial,” he says. “I was on the dole. We sold cassettes for a pound. But we put hours of our time into it and we always thought, wouldn’t it be lovely to get a licence from the BBC and do it for real?”

Over the next few years, finally licensed by the BBC, Nick began settling into his niche as a writer, actor, director, producer, sound designer and composer, working on a variety of Doctor Who spin-offs produced by the company Big Finish, of which he is now co-executive producer.

There were comic spin-offs too, parodies and spoofs, including three series of the cult post-apocalyptic sci-fi comedy Nebulous which he directed for Radio 4. But his really exciting break was still to come.

In 2005, Doctor Who (which had not been seen on our screens since 1989), was revived by Russell T Davies with Christopher Eccleston playing the Doctor. Rumours were rife. Several people “secretly” told Nick he might be up for the voice of the Daleks. “I thought it was a wind-up,” Nick says. “Then I got the call. It happened. And it changed my life.”

These days, Nick plays all the Daleks — emperor Daleks, mad Daleks, prime minister Daleks, deceptively sympathetic-seeming Daleks — and he modestly claims to have upped the emotional quotient of these iconic “motorised dustbins” from about 10 to 30 per cent.

He plays a host of other villains, too: Cybermen, Ice Warriors, Judoon. As his mum says, “all those strange noises emanating from your bedroom have finally paid off.”

And he loves every minute of it. He brings his voice-distorting Ring Modulator to rehearsals and “it always brings the house down.” He is always on set during filming because, as he explains excitedly, “it is my voice, through a wire, that makes the lights flash in time. You can really exorcise your demons with the Dalek voice and all that shouting.”

Nick gets to hang out with famous dyed-in-the-woollen-scarf fans such as David Tennant and Peter Capaldi. And since he was chucked off the Celebrity Weakest Link Doctor Who Special for not knowing who Tiger Woods was (“I don’t watch sport”), he is even being recognised in the street himself.

It is a cracking Boy’s Own story. And now he is fulfilling yet another of his life’s ambitions: to live near the sea. In Bridport for the past three years, with his wife and a small son who is determined to carry on the family business, he couldn’t be happier.

“I am a very lucky man,” says Nick. “I have a pretty small skill-set. I can touch-type, I can grow a beard quickly, I can row a boat and I can sound like a Dalek. But Doctor Who is still my favourite thing. It always was.”

  • Nicholas Briggs will be playing Metatron, The Voice of God, in Radio 4’s production of Sir Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s novel Good Omens, a series of five episodes during Christmas week.
By |November 25th, 2014|Exclusive, Gill Capper, People|1 Comment

Bring on the Buzz

Laura Cockett

Arts Director – Laura Cockett

In her first full interview since her appointment as Director of Bridport Arts Centre,
Laura Cockett talks to Nick Pitt

The gentle hum emanating from the Arts Centre will soon become a lively buzz of expectation. Laura Cockett, a dynamic 35-year-old theatre producer and administrator, takes over as queen bee on 10 November.

To conclude the clichés, she might be called the blonde bombshell or the pocket dynamo, but judging by the enthusiasm and excitement with which she spoke as she looked forward to her new job, she will certainly make an impact on Bridport’s cultural life.

“The challenge is to create a sense that the arts centre is for everybody, a place that everyone feels belongs to them and that everyone can use and enjoy,” Cockett said.

Cockett is necessarily a diplomat as well as a force for change. She knows that the foundations of the Arts Centre are firm; that her predecessor, Polly Gifford, built an impressive programme of events; and that adjustment rather than wholesale change is the order of the day.

“I have lots of ideas but I know I can’t do it all in the first week,” she said. “In my interview I spoke about my vision for the centre and developing what is already an exciting programme to reach out to other groups. I especially want to involve young people, and not with a top-down approach. It’s a matter of adjusting the balance.”

Cockett (pronounced Cock-it, not coquette) was brought up in Winchester. She took a drama degree at John Moores University, Liverpool, and a post-graduate diploma in theatre production and management. Her first job, though, was as an actress, playing Noah’s granddaughter and a monkey in a show by the Walk the Plank theatre company, which performed on a Norwegian Ferry in ports and harbours around Britain. Good preparation for life in Bridport, perhaps.

Although she loved acting, Cockett decided she did not quite love it enough to put up with the employment uncertainties and rejections involved and decided to concentrate on management and production. She worked as a freelance for six years and in 2009 joined Hope Street Limited in Liverpool. She has lately produced the On the Verge festival and the Suitcase performances in railway stations which poignantly recreated Kindertransport, the arrival of Jewish refugee children fleeing the Nazis to be fostered in Britain. Both were signal successes.

When Cockett first saw the post of BAC director advertised, she did not apply. She may have felt daunted. But despite conducting interviews, the BAC trustees decided to advertise the post again. “Then I thought, perhaps this is meant to be,” Cockett said. “I liked the broad scope of the job, the involvement with theatre, dance, music, visual arts, as well as the learning and community aspects. So I applied.”

By all accounts, Cockett gave a terrific performance at interview in outlining her ideas and vision for the arts centre. Now she’s coming, and all she has to do is deliver.

By |October 23rd, 2014|Exclusive, People|0 Comments